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Nearly 100K people watched a streamer destroy rare Pokémon cards

Dark Raichu in lube ... ouch

Dark Raichu card Image: Sodapoppin via Twitch
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

On Thursday, Chance “sodapoppin” Morris streamed the unthinkable live on Twitch: He dunked rare Pokémon cards in lube. And that’s not all — Morris also set plenty of cards on fire using a flamethrower, rolled cards in dirt, and blended cards in an effort to all-out destroy them.

Nearly 100,000 concurrent viewers tuned in to watch the destruction at certain points; the archived stream has more than 1.2 million views.

Where did Morris get all these cards, you ask? He bought them as part of a rare pack, worth thousands of dollars. There were plenty of duds within that pack, but they all faced the same fate: destruction.

One of the more popular moments of the stream happened when the group pulled a Dark Raichu card, which they valued at around $5,000 — a number that’s on the high-end of the spectrum. (The card would probably go for less.) The Dark Raichu ended up in the glass full of lube, as his guests looked on in horror and anguish. Later, a Dark Charizard card accepted that same fate.

But now for the important question: Why? What sort of grudge does Morris have against Pokémon cards? Apparently, it’s not the Pokémon cards. Instead, it’s the recent Twitch trend of opening rare packs on streams, something that’s become increasingly popular as streamers hope for the hype of pulling expensive cards while on stream. You see, Pokémon cards are hot commodities again, as folks realize that Charizard can make you rich.

Even rapper Logic, née Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, spent $220,000 on a single, holographic Charizard card. For Logic, it was sentimental — he may have been horrified at how Morris took to the cards.

“When I was a kid I absolutely loved Pokémon but couldn’t afford the cards,” Logic wrote on Instagram in October. “I remember even trying to trade food stamps for theirs and now as an adult who has saved every penny he has made being able to enjoy something that I’ve loved since childhood now as a grown man is like buying back a piece of something I could never have, it’s not about the material it’s about the experience.”

YouTuber Logan Paul, on the other hand, spent $150,000 on his own Charizard card. The original Pokémon generation, the kids who grew up with the games, are now adults, and some of them can afford that nostalgia for having a highly sought after card.

Having access to these cards has become a status symbol, and the excitement of pulling rare cards started spreading on Twitch. As Kotaku wrote in November, it’s clear why this is compelling for viewers: It’s high stakes and emotional, like gambling. People have been watching these sorts of streams — like gacha pulls — for a long time. Opening up Counter-Strike: Global Offensive loot boxes or unwrapping Pokémon cards, it’s a similar feeling.

It’s a practice that Morris himself has been critical of. “I got a lot of shit when when I played blackjack on stream because I was ‘promoting gambling to children,’” Morris said on stream in November. “And now Pokémon is big and everyone loves it. And now it’s gambling but with, like, a kid-friendly label slapped on. Gambling, rated PG, for everyone. That’s kinda how it feels.”

Morris’ Pokémon card destruction rally feels like a commentary on that — a cruel, cruel commentary for card collectors everywhere.

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